Before and right after joining Barcelona, Quique Setién shared all sorts of promising words, but he did not walk the walk. What went wrong for Quique at Barça? Is it his fault?
Press conferences are not always positive events. They are all talk, and they often bite the speaker in the behind whenever matches and results don’t go their way. Recently, Arturo Vidal opened his mouth before the Bayern game, saying that Barça is the best team in the world and that the Bavarians shouldn’t be too cocky. His manager, Quique Setién, knows a lot about press conferences. The Cantabrian coach has some history in such pressers.
Before joining Barcelona, Quique Setién was every culés‘ fantasy because of what he said publicly. From Johan Cruyff’s tactics to his boldness, Setién mesmerised a fanbase that watched him in a few games with Lugo, Las Palmas and Real Betis. It happens a lot in La Liga, and two or three games against the heavyweights usually make the masses’ judgements on coaches and players.
“When I go to a team I can guarantee one thing and that’s that the team will play well.”Quique Setién in his presentation as a Barça manager
When Quique joined Barcelona, the Catalans thought that boldness and free-flowing football would be back at Camp Nou, and it did, for three matches. Setién’s debut was against Granada, and despite only winning 1–0, his side made over 1,000 passes and played Granada, a team that reached Europe this year, off the park. It was smooth football, and the importance of Riqui Puig in the goal gave everyone confidence in Setién, who was going to trust the Barcelona youth.
After the Valencia 2–0 loss in January, though, Setién seemed to go back to Ernesto Valverde‘s tactics and scrapped the three-at-the-back formation for a 4–4–2 or 4–3–3 with Arturo Vidal on the left, just as el Txingurri did.
In the next few months came dull and outdated football, with no substitutions despite having five and playing the same old guard and losing the league in the process. This title loss wasn’t only on Setién, but it was partly his fault for reverting to some ineffective tactics. Let’s be honest, culés would have trusted the process had Quique Setién showed more boldness with his line-ups and use of youngsters.
“Everyone has the same role, the same options to play. I want everyone to think that you have to win the spot every day, but it’s true that there are players who have won a lot over the years.”Quique Setién in his first pre-match press conference at Barcelona
However, since 2017, there has always been a nauseating atmosphere around the club and its heavyweights. It’s clear that Luis Suárez shouldn’t start every game in 2020, as he just comes back from a lengthy injury and is 33, but he does. It’s clear that Vidal isn’t the best option for big away games where the coach tries to control the game, while he started at Anfield and against Bayern. Jordi Alba has been faulty for at least a year, and yet he plays every clash, even when there is a young up and coming left-back in the ranks. Iván Rakitić‘s post-quarantine form was indeed lovely to see, but he did not show enough in the past few seasons to start those crucial fixtures. These are some of the heavyweights that play every time almost without question.
When Setién tried to implement his way of seeing football, the heavyweights probably did not like it because it demanded too much running and application. That’s been the story for a few years. There’s a reason Valverde’s Athletic Club did well and play a good brand of football and Setién’s Betis received a lot of plaudits for his 2017/18 season, for both his football and his results, and they were not unanimous successes at Camp Nou.
The brand Setién proposed at Las Palmas and Betis was much better than what he offered at Barça. Something’s fishy, but it’s still Quique’s fault for not dying with his principles. Dressing room power is a problem, but Setién could have been bolder and stubborn with these players, teaching them the hard way that football is a game of understanding and principles. He failed, unfortunately.
3 Players Barcelona can sell to ease their financial burden
A debt of €1.173 billion, more than €700 million of which is short term, has sent FC Barcelona down a rabbit hole. The club’s gross mismanagement on both sporting as well as financial levels is no longer a secret. The former board of directors, led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu has consistently spent inordinate amounts of money on ludicrous signings. Most of which have come to bite the club back.
Now, they find themselves in a stickier situation than ever, with an astronomically high wage bill and multiple liabilities to clubs across Europe for signings. In addition, Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona hangs in the balance. If the club are to conduct any business whatsoever, it will have to begin by offloading a few players.
After Ronald Koeman arrived at the club following the disastrous end to the 2019-20 season, a few key names have already been sold. As the initiation of a rebuilding process, Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Nelson Semedo, and Ivan Rakitic were all sold. However, these departures have hardly put a dent in Barcelona’s debt.
That being said, Barça Universal takes a look at three potential sales that might help the club with their finances. Players who may not be key parts of the sporting project long term and whose departures will allow for some breathing room in the wage structure, and allow Barcelona to sign a huge talent such as Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland.
It would be a rather disappointing conclusion to what was potentially a wonderful signing. Samuel Umtiti, after signing for Barcelona, was rapidly rising up the ranks as one of the world’s best centre-backs. After his move from Lyon in 2016, he was flying high and quickly displayed why he staked a claim into the Blaugrana’s starting lineup.
But the Frenchman’s fairytale would come to an abrupt halt. After a fantastic second season with Barcelona, Umtiti suffered an injury to his left knee in 2018, just a month before the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The defender risked himself to represent his nation, and it ended up being a positive decision as France lifted the coveted prize with Umtiti as one of the key players. He decided not to have surgery as he felt it would worsen his issues.
Ever since then, despite his initial impressions, the injury woes have persisted and have led to many complications. Recurring issues with his meniscus, followed by foot injuries and many other issues, led to a massive decline in form and physicality. The centre-back was never really able to return to his brilliant best. While coach Ronald Koeman does favour the Frenchman, he is definitely not a consistently reliable presence at the back anymore.
Umtiti’s current deal with Barcelona expires in 2023, and given that he is 27 years old may work in favour of the club. He is not too old, and while he is injury-free, he could fetch Barcelona at least some money. The World Cup winner at his best is a fine player, but given the current circumstances, Barcelona can no longer afford to leave things up to chance.
Philippe Coutinho came to Spain with tremendous promise for the fans, backed up by a huge smile on his face. He was genuinely happy to be where he was. His dream of playing for Barcelona was finally a reality. But that optimism sadly did not last far too long.
The midfielder slowed down tremendously in his first full season with the Catalans. He looked out of sorts and lost in strange and unfamiliar systems. When he arrived in January of 2018 from Liverpool, he became Barcelona’s most expensive signing of all time for over €140 million. After two bad seasons and a loan spell at Bayern Munich, he was finally beginning to show small signs of promise under Ronald Koeman this term.
However, the Brazilian has also been sidelined due to a lengthy injury this season, which has extended into worse news. In addition to that, Liverpool are reportedly one of the clubs that Barcelona still owe money to in variables for Coutinho’s transfer. They will be keen on avoiding any more liabilities. And since Coutinho has obviously not come anywhere close to providing a return on Barcelona’s investment in him, his time at the club may be up.
He is also one of the highest earners in the squad, therefore selling him might be imperative.
The midfielder turned right-back has been a polarising figure in the Barcelona fans’ eyes for quite some time now. The 29-year-old’s current contract with Barcelona is set to run out next year and has a release clause of a massive €500 million. Roberto has made some amazing memories with the club, most prominently, his iconic goal against PSG in 2017’s famous ‘Remontada’.
However, since then he has been more or less showing that he is mostly just a utility player. The Spaniard has been unremarkable in a fair few games and has often made rather costly errors. Over time however, he had certainly become one of the heavyweights in the dressing room, which obviously reflects in his salary. This season, he has been struggling with a thigh injury, which he recovered from but then relapsed.
He was a valuable asset to have in the absence of a full fledged right-back who has the so-called ‘Barcelona DNA’. However, with the arrival of Sergino Dest, parting ways with Roberto makes sense from both sporting and financial perspectives.
While Roberto might not be among the players who have constantly underperformed but selling him might be a logical decision for Barcelona because as a player who can play in multiple positions across the pitch, and is in his theoretical prime, the Spaniard will be in demand. Football today requires for players to adapt in various positions and roles, and we have seen Roberto’s capability with the same.
Additionally, as one of the captains of the team, the La Masia graduate might be able to lease off a more than decent amount of cash. Several top teams in the market, including Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and PSG, among others, might be vouching for a right-back soon and could look towards Sergi Roberto.
However, there are also more players like Jordi Alba, Junior Firpo and Neto who could be smart sales. Alba has also been declining rapidly but his offensive output has not yet been replaced. Firpo is already linked to a move away to various clubs after failing to impress at Barcelona. In a nutshell, the Blaugrana certainly have options to sell, in order to continue the rebuild effectively. Easing the financial load by selling and eventually making way for more sensible transfers will be vital for this transitioning side.